Political Asylum — August 30, 2012, 1:28 pm

Obama Derangement Syndrome

The real sea change in Wednesday night’s convention lay not in the depth and reach of the deliberate distortions, which were admittedly breathtaking. Rather, it was that all the Republicans speakers—not just political consultants whispering to favored columnists—have now shifted so far out of the reality-based community that pretty much every media organ, including Fox and even, implicitly, the Drudge Report, have criticized Ryan’s speech for its laundry list of distortions and hypocrisies. Fact-checking pieces headline all the major morning outlets, from the Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/paul-ryan-fails—-the-truth/2012/08/29/bbfe1eac-f254-11e1-b74c-84ed55e0300b_blog.html

and

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/08/30/the-true-the-false-and-the-misleading-grading-paul-ryans-convention-speech/

to FactCheck.org:

http://qvga.factcheck.org/2012/08/republican-retreads-from-tampa/

to The New Yorker:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/08/the-paul-ryan-speech-five-fibs.html#ixzz252NttPlG

to CNN:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/30/politics/pol-fact-check-ryan-gm/index.html

to The New Republic:

http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/106730/ryan-most-dishonest-convention-speech-five-lies-gm-medicare-deficit-medicaid

to the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/30/paul-ryan-address_n_1841819.html

to Fox News:

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/08/30/paul-ryans-speech-in-three-words/#ixzz251rvLkSe

to Gawker:

http://gawker.com/5939136/cnn-correspondents-praise-ryans-speech-acknowledge-seven-or-eight-factual-errors

and even to the front page of the New York Times, which cautiously notes Ryan’s hypocrisies toward the end of its piece:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/30/us/politics/paul-ryan-accepts-republican-vice-presidential-nomination.html.

The Drudge Report slyly links its main piece on Ryan to a simple AP transcript, a piece with no commentary at all since finding one that doesn’t mention the distortions is hard to come by.

The way the media in general frame facts has come under immense pressure since the rise of Newt Gingrich during the Reagan years, really. Liberals like to note that the mainstream press has been cowed by decades of complaints that it possesses a liberal bias and favor the Democratic party line while ignoring Republican ideas. In the past five years or so, though, some media critics have begun to push back. The charge from the other side is that mainstream media outlets have abandoned their duty to check simple, knowable facts. For instance, the GM factory Ryan suggested was closed during the Obama Administration was actually shuttered in December 2008, i.e., during the final months of the Bush Administration. Every outlet, except the most devoted Republican organs, has now reported this. So, there has been a big shift now. Daily political journalists have perhaps heard the message that they are not doing their jobs and feel bad about it.

That’s one explanation, and possibly it’s the truth. But the Republicans have also succumbed to the Obama equivalent of what Charles Krauthammer called, more than four years ago, Bush Derangement Syndrome. There is no problem of our time that cannot be assigned to some failing in the leadership of Barack Obama. Inside the bubble of their own chattering class, one could also argue, they have convinced themselves that Obama is to blame for the closure of that GM factory before he became president, or that the Obama/Ryan plan to funnel $716 billion out of future Medicare outlays is only an Obama idea, or that only Obama turned away from the Bowles-Simpson findings that Ryan also rejected. Occasionally these inside retoolings leak out into the public and cause embarrassment—that’s what really explains the recent Todd Akin fiasco. This year, the Republicans have doubled down on their challenges to Stephen Colbert’s famous line: “Facts are a liberal conspiracy.” Or, in a near-rewrite by Romney pollster Neil Newhouse: “We are not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”

Share
Single Page
undefined

More from Jack Hitt:

Political Asylum November 6, 2012, 2:01 pm

The Electoral Battle Between Corporationism and Empiricism

Obama’s data-driven approach may decide today’s race—and determine the future of the G.O.P.

Political Asylum September 25, 2012, 3:18 pm

Wall Street Places Its Election Bets

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2014

The End of Retirement

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Octopus and Its Grandchildren

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Francis and the Nuns

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Return of the Strongman

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“Evidence of a chill was plain. People in Hailey spoke to me about Bergdahl in low voices, as if about a death.”
Fox & Friends, July 6, 2014
Article
The Seductive Catastrophe·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The world’s leaders were moved by a populace fused into a forward phalanx, were shaken by a tidal wave of militancy jubilantly united.”
Photograph courtesy Mary Evans Picture Library
Post
The Glitch in the Video-Game Graveyard·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“From the nerd squabbles of Internet discussion threads rose an urban legend that culminated in a film that hinges on digging through my town’s trash.”
Illustration (detail) by Timothy Taranto
Article
What the Camera Saw·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“They shot him behind the left ear, and he fell.”
Article
Bounty·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If I’d been one of the unprepared, I’d be desperate, too.”
Illustration (detail) by Simon Pemberton

Rolls of toilet paper Chicago’s city government has produced this year from recycled City Hall wastepaper:

19,000

Two thirds of U.S. teenagers experience uncontrollable rage.

Russia lost, then regained, contact with a satellite carrying five geckos sent to copulate in zero gravity.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today